This is what my parents, my siblings and my relatives have called me for as long as I can remember.
My weight was always perfect according to BMI. But because both my bhaiya and my didi (siblings) were skinny, my whole family ended up giving me a nickname – Motu.
For them, the nickname was only meant as a sign of affection. But, hardly they knew that at night when no one was awake, I would stand in the front of the mirror and hate myself.
I would look at my stomach and ask myself only one question – “Why Am I So Fat?”
Have you ever seen a child who hates herself for wanting to have chocolate or ice-cream?
But I used to.
With every single bite of chocolate and ice-cream, I hated myself more. With each bite, I hated myself for losing self-control and putting on additional weight.
At a very young age, I started exercising and dieting a lot. But, there was hardly any difference I could make to the way I looked. I still saw a disgusting overweight girl staring back at me from the mirror.
Can you believe, to this day I feel guilty about taking a second helping of food?
I feel guilty about taking an extra chapati irrespective of how much hungry I feel.
And at 20, I was still fighting the urge to hide myself from other people, when having snacks.
I always thought that if I lost weight, maybe I would start liking myself. But, it never happened.
When I was in 7th class, my aunt came to visit us. And, she was shocked when she saw me. She asked me – “Moto, what happened? Why are you looking so weak?” I was extremely happy when she called me weak because for me at that time being weak also meant Skinny; Skinny was similar to Beautiful!
But my happiness didn’t last long because, when I looked in the mirror I still felt ugly and fat.
And this pattern of self-hate, crash diet plans, and crazy exercise routines continued through my college.
I never had the courage to tell anyone how I really felt about myself. So, for people around me, they always saw a really confident woman, but internally I was full of self-doubt and self-hatred.
And the worse part was that I thought to feel this way about myself was normal.
Whenever I entered the class, I felt everyone was staring at me and thinking how ugly I was. With time things became so worse that I could not look up into anyone’s eyes. I stopped participating in class or any event because I was too scared to draw any attention to myself.
There was this voice inside me who kept telling me that I was “Moti”. And, with time this voice became stronger and stronger.
But, then I found a group of angels who literally changed my life. These two amazing women spared no chance to lift up my spirits. Every time we would meet, they would tell me how beautiful and amazing I was. Initially, I would brush them off and think they are just being polite. But over time I started believing in what they were saying.
I honestly don’t know how it happened, but I know it was because of their constant appreciation and help that I started to understand how amazing I really was.
They listened to my doubts and helped me in solving them. They helped me identify my negative thinking patterns and replace them with healthier thoughts.
They also understood my fear of suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder – the disorder that causes imagined ugliness. This disorder leads to the patient developing self-hate and doubts.
My friends helped me in replacing the voices that called me Moti, with the voices that called me beautiful. They taught me how to love myself – the basic right that my family took away from me unknowingly.
Once I started to love myself, I not only stood for myself. But, also confronted my family that they shouldn’t call me “Moti” or “Moto” or any variant for their own amusement or fun. I explained to them how their unconscious behavior of calling me fat, had let to me wasting many years of my life hating myself.
Thankfully, they now understand their fault and make sure they are not calling me or anyone else “Moti”.
If you or any of your relatives are calling your kid Moti or Moto, then please stop it right away. You might be saying it out of love. But believe me, you are not expressing your love, rather you are hurting your kid’s self-esteem. No kid wants to hear herself/himself called fat. Every kid desire to be accepted the way s/he is.
So, love your kids and make sure you raise them as someone who is confident in their skin and ready to conquer the world.